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I used an older edition of O'Reilly's Learning Python and found it to be very accessible and well written -- I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned before: http://oreilly.com/catalog/9781565924642/

O'Reilly's Programming Python is not bad, but it's not a great book, either for beginners or journeymen.

Python in a Nutshell is more suitable as reference book, although I suppose you could use it to learn Python. For a Python reference book, I found David Beazley's Python Essential Reference to be more informative and better organized: http://www.amazon.com/Python-Essential-Reference-Developers-...

As other people have mentioned, Guido's online tutorial is pretty good, and you don't really much else to start programming in Python: http://docs.python.org/tutorial/index.html

I'm always puzzled by people recommending Mark Pilgrim's Dive into Python. I don't find it a good choice for Python beginners.

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